Rights group says Israel West Bank mining violates international law

[JURIST] Israeli rights group Yesh Din [advocacy website, in Hebrew] filed a petition [text, PDF; press release] in the Supreme Court of Israel [official website] Monday, accusing the State of Israel of violating international law based on the mining operations it conducts within the West Bank. According to the complaint, the mining removes 12 million tons of stone and gravel each year from the West Bank, 9 million tons of which are used for the economic benefit of the State of Israel [AP report] and private Israeli companies. The group referred to many different international treaties, including provisions of the Geneva Conventions [ICRC materials], and general principles of international law in setting out its assertion of illegality:

The rules of occupation constitute a regime of temporary trust which necessitates that, among other things, any long-term alteration made in the occupied territory, inasmuch as it is permissible, shall benefit the local population (which is the population of protected civilians). Another, negative aspect of the trustee's duty are rules that ban the occupying power from exploiting the territories under its domain for its own needs, except for (with certain restrictions) its security needs.

Unlike in the case of the permissibility of mining for natural resources in an occupied territory as a rule, in this matter -- quarrying for natural resources for the benefit of the occupying power -- the scholars are not disputed at all. It is agreed by all of them that not only is this a violation of the international laws of occupation, but many of them even believe that under certain circumstances, this constitutes the war crime of pillage...the occupant does not have the right to use property or to other rights he manages in the occupied territories for purposes other than maintaining public order and safety in the occupied territory.
Israel has denied any violations, and said that the mining is carried out according to agreements with Palestinians [BBC report].

Israel has been strongly criticized by the international community over its settlement and land appropriation activities, particularly in the West Bank. In November, Switzerland condemned Israeli destruction of Palestinian homes [JURIST report] in East Jerusalem as a violation of international humanitarian law. In September, Israeli human rights group B'Tselem [advocacy website] reported that Israeli security policies have resulted in Palestinians being prevented from accessing land [JURIST report] adjacent to settlements in the West Bank. In July, Yesh Din highlighted the lack of investigations and prosecutions [JURIST report] of Israeli settlers in the Occupied Territories who commit crimes against Palestinians. In June, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] said that Israeli plans to expand settlements [Ha'aretz report] in the West Bank violate international law [JURIST report].

 

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